Not so ‘healthy’: Sugar edition

Browsing through the grocery store can be a difficult task! There are so many marketing claims out there on products that it can be easy to purchase a food item without thinking about the components of the product. Today, we are starting a new series that looks at food items that may be considered ‘healthy’ in some aspects, but when you take a closer look, you learn that this product that claims to be ‘healthy,’ isn’t so healthy after all! First up, sugar. From yogurt to smoothie drinks to salads, the amount of sugar in food can be easily overlooked and shocking!

Vitamin Water

I have to make a conscious effort to drink water, as the lack of flavor in normal water is honestly not my favorite. It’s definitely tempting to look for other beverages that will quench my thirst while providing flavor. But, don’t let the words vitamin and water in the brand Vitamin Water fool you, as this beverage has as much sugar as a can of coke (32 grams)! In fact, if you take a look at the ingredient list, the second and third ingredients (after water) are fructose and cane sugar. Yikes! If you are looking for ways to spruce up your water, try infusing water with fresh fruit and herbs to get a glass full of flavor without the calories or sugar grams!

Naked Juice and Smoothies

As soon as you approach the refrigerated section in the produce section, there are multiple shelves of juices and smoothies claiming that each bottle contains multiple fruit and vegetable servings. At first glance, this sounds like a convenient option to increase fruit and vegetable consumption while choosing a healthier option than soda. Many of these juices claim to have no sugar added, which is somewhat accurate although still questionable. For instance, if you take a look at Naked’s Green Machine smoothie, the label on the front claims ‘no sugar added.’ But, if you like at the label, a 15oz serving contains 53 grams sugar with 0 grams fiber. The ingredient list shows that the majority of the juice is fruit juice or puree with various additives or “boosts” as Naked calls them. As we know, fruit juice is naturally high in sugar and could even include added sugar, depending on the type of juice or puree being used. In my opinion, you are better eating a whole fruit or even juicing at home so you can control exactly what is going in your finished product!

Activia Blueberry Yogurt

We previously talked about yogurt and what to look for when navigating the yogurt section of the grocery store. Activia is one of the more popular yogurt brands because of its probiotic content and low fat makeup. But, be careful with what you purchase! The Blueberry Activia yogurt contains 17 grams sugar in just a 4oz serving with the second, third, and fourth ingredients being blueberry puree, sugar, and fructose, respectively. Instead of choosing a fruit containing yogurt, try purchasing a plain greek yogurt for a higher protein, lower sugar product and adding your own fresh fruit for flavor!

PowerBar Performance Bar

The granola bar/ energy bar aisle at the grocery store can be very tricky. Even if a brand markets their product as one that provides “max energy,” it may not always be healthy. In fact, PowerBar’s performance bars provide ~25-26 grams sugar in one bar with many of the first ingredients as fructose, sugar or something similar.  When purchasing a granola bar or something that is easy to grab and go, follow our five rule: 5 grams or more of fiber and protein and 5 grams or less of sugar.


Dried fruits can be detrimental to a healthy diet, as almost all of them include added sugar. Craisins and raisins are two of the most popular dried fruits, especially when at a salad bar. In fact, just 1/4 cup Craisins provides 29 grams sugar with most of it being added sugar. Trying create your own dried fruit at home or looking for dried fruits that contain no added sugar in the ingredient list! There are quite a few at Trader Joe’s that I really like.

Talk to us! Have you noticed any foods or drinks at the grocery store that contain a lot more sugar than you originally thought?

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